A bulky black brace stretched from the middle of Mike Moustakas’ thigh to the top of his right ankle, stiffening his knee as he limped through the Royals clubhouse.
Twelve days after surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament, Moustakas approached his locker, wearing a camouflage hat turned backwards, a hoodie and flip-flops.
Over the next 10 minutes he displayed a stoic demeanor as he assessed the play that ended his season. On a Sunday afternoon in Chicago last month, Moustakas and left fielder Alex Gordon sprinted toward a popup. They met in foul territory, a collision that would conclude Moustakas’ season and sideline Gordon for weeks.
“I play the game hard just like everybody else in this clubhouse does. That’s why we’re as good as we are. We play the game hard every pitch, and we don’t take pitches off,” Moustakas said, later adding, “Alex plays harder than anybody else on this team. For him to go after that ball and for me to go after that ball, it was just something that we always do.
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“I wouldn’t have done anything different. I would’ve gone after that ball as hard as I did, and I’m sure he would’ve done the same thing.”
Gordon suffered a broken scaphoid bone his right hand. He has not played since.
On June 2, orthopedic surgeon James Andrews removed Moustakas’ patellar tendon and placed it where his ACL once sat. Andrews added a couple of screws inside the knee. Moustakas expects to be back for spring training in 2017.
“Once I heard I was out for the year, my main focus was to get ready for next year,” Moustakas said. “You can either sit here and start feeling sorry for yourself and (wonder) why did this happen or whatever, or you can just go out there and continue to get better each day. That’s kind of the road I took.”
Moustakas spent the past 10 days in Gulf Breeze, Fla., watching Royals games from a bed and starting what he referred to as the “challenge of walking again.” He will spend the remainder of the season splitting his time between Kansas City and Gulf Breeze, he said, where he has begun lateral exercises at Andrews’ rehab facility.
“When I’m at home just watching these boys play, I still get fired up, still get a little jacked up seeing what they’re doing,” Moustakas said. “It’s not fun to sit there and watch and not be out there with them. But I know what my job is right now. It’s to get better for next year and keep cheering these boys on.”
Right-handed pitcher Kris Medlen is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class AA Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday. Medlen, who has been throwing live batting practice in Surprise, Ariz., went on the 15-day disabled list for right rotator cuff inflammation on May 11.
Royals add pitcher
The Royals claimed left-handed pitcher Tyler Olson off waivers from the New York Yankees on Tuesday, before assigning him to Class AAA Omaha. Olson, 26, made 11 appearances, three of them starts, for the Yankees AAA affiliate, compiling a 1-2 record and 5.27 earned run average across 27 1/3 innings. He appeared once in relief for the Yankees this season.
To make room on their 40-man roster for Olson, the Royals transferred third baseman Mike Moustakas to the 60-day disabled list.